Tom Douglas writes songs with gravitas. He writes songs about real things, with weight and meaning. And here, he inspires songwriters to press harder into their craft through a brilliantly crafted speech. Watch, enjoy, and be inspired.
Angaleena Presley was 30 minutes late because she was writing a song, which is forgiven, of course. Her debut LP American Middle Class releases October 14th.
So you just finished writing a song by yourself. Do you do that a lot?
It’s random that I get inspired to write by myself, because I’m rarely by myself. I just got lost in it just now.
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I first heard Travis Meadows through his Killin’ Uncle Buzzy record, which came highly recommended from a few trusted sources. I then saw his name pop up on Eric Church’s Outsiders record, then on the title cut from Dierks Bentley’s Riser record. His most recent cut is Jake Owen’s “What We Ain’t Got”, a song that stands out among the crowd right now for it’s vulnerability and honesty. I had a lively conversation with Travis, as he recounted a hard life that is now turning up diamonds.
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1. A good country song cuts deep. That’s most people’s problem with the music on the radio — listeners could probably stomach edgier production if the songs were able to break the skin, but few writers today aim to do that. Good thing Eric Paslay goes for the jugular here. Producer Marshall Altman wisely keeps things down here, adding just a touch of instrumentation around Paslay’s voice as he assures another man that his “love” isn’t quite so real. He describes a woman who has been burned so many times that she has forgotten how to feel. Most songs on the radio these days give women two of the following dimensions: tan, drunk, soaking wet, barely clothed, or something of the like. Paslay busts out of that box and gives this woman four, maybe five dimensions. She’s hurt, she’s jaded, she’s lonely — but she’s also self-aware, and remembers what life was like before all the heartbreak. In fact, the narrator knows so much about his subject that the “twist” at the end is hardly revelatory. When people ask for story songs, what they want is this sort of depth. Paslay manages to conjure it without giving away hardly any of the story, which is commendable.
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1. Country music is about songs. Always has been, always will be. There are some that like to hold country music to a certain sound, usually the twang of Luther Perkins’ guitar or Buddy Emmons’ steel. When they talk about bringing country music back, that’s what many people mean. Country music has always changed sounds, though — from Hank Williams’ hardscrabble moan to Kitty Wells to Cash to Kenny Rogers to Conway Twitty to Willie in the 70’s to Willie in the 80’s to Willie in the 00’s to Alan Jackson to Garth to Reba to Faith & Tim to Kenny Chesney to Miranda Lambert to Kacey Musgraves and on and on. Sounds change, but songs remain. Lee Ann Womack cuts great songs. So do most artists who her husband, Frank Liddell produces. Sometimes Lee Ann Womack leans more to the pop side (“I Hope You Dance”), and sometimes she leans more traditional (“I May Hate Myself In The Morning”). My favorite song of hers is “I Think I Know”, written by Tom Shapiro, Mark Nesler, and Tony Martin. I’m not really sure where she is leaning on this new track, the title cut from her upcoming album, but I’m damn sure it’s a good song.
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